The other day I was going back through some pieces I had written a year ago. Crazy to see how time flies by...in what seems like the blink of an eye. I was in a very different place even then. Today, as I read through this piece, I'm thankful for so many things. I'm thankful that I am finally healed. I am thankful for the people I've been gifted in my life to teach me the lessons I've learned, even though - at times - they've been hard lessons to swallow. I am thankful for mindful living and constant reflection and growth. And I thought I'd share it with you as well...
This is both an apology note to the men who were too terrified to be with a free-spirited, independent, strong, wanderlust, and a love letter to our future partners.
To the man who wasn’t confident enough in yourself and was too terrified to let me be me: I am sorry.
Let me be me. My biggest fear is that I will lose myself. That I can’t maintain a relationship without losing who I am. Don’t allow me to change who I am at the core. Remember you fell in love with me for that messy ball of chaos that I sometimes in, because in that chaos your eyes see beauty. Don't ask me to apologize for the way I am or to promise that I will change. It is the same as asking a leopard to change its spots. The only thing that will change is YOU.
To the man who fell in love with my free spirit and then tried to change me and hold me down: I am sorry.
Love my fierce independence and celebrate it, and I will love and respect you. This is a companionship and the path to success is celebrating each other and finding our groove together—a groove that will look unique and different from everyone else’s, because we are two individuals and together we have the potential to do great, big, huge things…which could sometimes mean giggling in bed for hours at a time.
To the man who said to me, “Can’t you just grow your hair out?!”: I am sorry.
If I cut my hair, dye it purple, or shave my head…love me still. For who I am, not for who you want me to be. For the fact that I am the most beautiful soul you know. And while we’re at it…tell me I’m beautiful too.
To the man who couldn’t tell me I was beautiful because you wanted to keep me down: I am sorry.
Tell me I’m beautiful not because I need to hear it, but because you can’t imagine not letting the words escape your lips. I think you’re beautiful too, and I’ll tell you all about it—that ocean blue color of your eyes that makes me want to get my bikini on and dive into them, and the way that you look into my soul—that’s beautiful.
To the man who thought I didn’t need to be held or cherished or loved the way I needed it most: I am sorry.
Though I am a strong woman, I ask that you attempt to find that balance between letting me be free and wild and knowing when to be fragile and gentle. I’ll guide you there. Even wild and strong women can be sensitive and have down time, though we may not share this with everyone. If we invite you into that private realm, be grateful and respectful.
To the man who called me selfish: I am sorry.
I am selfish. Sometimes, I like to do my own thing. Focus on me. But if you look beyond society’s negative association with the word, you’ll realize that selfish to me means focusing on self, and when I focus on myself when I need to most, I will be far better in a relationship for you.
To the man who diagnosed me as crazy: I am sorry.
I can’t disagree. I am crazy. I’m wild and passionate and unruly and sometimes I’m a lot to handle. But flow with me and I’ll flow with you and we’ll find our stride.
To the man who didn’t tell me “I love you” because you were too afraid to feel it and share it: I am sorry.
If you feel it, tell me you love me. Always. And I will tell you I love you. I will tell you because this life on earth is too damn short and if I don’t tell you know, I might not be able to tell you tomorrow. You won’t scare me. Love is beautiful. As a wanderer with a big, open heart, love seems to meet me in this journey more often than the average human…whether it be alpenglow over the alps or the smell of freshly brewed coffee in a café capturing my attention and luring me. I am not afraid to see love and love and be loved.
To the man who couldn’t be honest with me because you couldn’t be honest with yourself first: I am sorry.
Do not worry. There is no reason to worry. No reason to be afraid. If this is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before in your life, tell me. But if this doesn’t feel right, tell me that too. It’s okay. I choose honesty. And there’s nothing more appealing than a man who is mature enough to be honest with himself and with me.
To the man who allowed me to lose myself rather than give of myself: I am sorry.
As a strong woman, my single greatest fear is that I’ll lose myself in you. Losing oneself is far different than giving of oneself. I want to give you my full heart. But I don’t want to lose it. I want to be me. I want you to be you. And at the end of the day, I want us to be us.
To the man who didn’t encourage me to pursue my dreams because you were too afraid of losing me: I am sorry.
I dream big. REAL big. I always have, and I always will. My head is up in the clouds 99% sent of the time. This is why you fell in love with me, remember?! I see the world with different eyes. Everything is bigger, more vibrant. Get tangled up in my wild imagination and dream with me, rather than against me…and we’ll journey together to the most fantastical, magical, sparkle countries you could ever imagine.
To the man who rolled your eyes when I was crying because I had a long day at work: I’m sorry.
I might be strong, but sometimes I just need to fucking cry. To let it all out. Don’t freak out. Don’t roll your eyes. Put your arms around me and calm me with your smile. Soothe my aches. But never, ever, roll your eyes at me. I repeat, NEVER.
To the man who ridiculed the way I was raised because it was different than the way you were raised, and constantly compared your and my parents relationship to ours: I am sorry.
I was once told that when a couple comes together to look at the relationship as an empty globe being held between your shared hands. Your work as partners is to fill that globe up—it’s water and it’s land—together. Your version of your globe will look different than anyone else’s ever created. It is not your parents’ relationship and it is not my parents’ relationship: it is our own. That’s magic.
To the man who called me an idiot for making a mistake: I am sorry.
Sometimes I spill things. I break glasses in the kitchen. I leave the burner on. I forget to pay my car loan. I fuck up at work. I am imperfect. Really imperfect. The last place I need to be shamed is at home, and the last person I need to be shamed by is my lover. Accountability is different than shame. Appreciate that difference.
To the man who couldn’t listen when I needed you to hear me: I am sorry.
Don’t just hear the words coming from my mouth. LISTEN to them. If I’m telling you something, I’m telling you for a reason. No word or breath is wasted. It’s all intentional and important and deserves to be heard and understood.
To the man who competed with me rather than lifted me up: I am sorry.
You are my lover; I have no reason to compete with you. Our work is to lift each other up and be committed to bringing out the best version of ourselves in each other. It’s hard work. It’s fun, too. There’s a reason we’re together after all, because I think you’re fucking awesome and you must think I am too.
To the man who worshipped me as the center of your universe: I am sorry.
I am a strong woman, but that doesn’t mean I think the world revolves around me, and that certainly doesn’t mean I want to be the center of your universe. I am a goddess and shall be treated as one through your love, but I am by no means a goddess to be worshipped. Please, please, please have interests and friends beyond me. The burden of being the center will weigh too heavily on my roaming, wandering gypsy spirit.
To the man who believed I diluted my time with people and things: I am sorry.
I love community. It gives me energy. If you aren’t able to realize that and embrace it, then you aren’t for me. That’s not to say I don’t want a quiet night alone with you every once in a while, but if you love me you’ll be excited to go to brunch with my best friends on a Sunday morning. I’ll do the same.
To the man who told me I’m too weird, or silly, or sometimes nonsensical: I am sorry.
I am bizarre. I wear a unicorn mask sometimes. I like costumes. I love to dance. Hard. In the rain sometimes too. I am full of emotions. My brain is sometimes scattered and my thoughts jumbled. I still sleep with the blanky I was given by my grandmother when I was born. My favorite article of clothing is a pair of muscle leggings. I like to lift weights. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m a mystery. But, I’m the most loyal, committed, loving and passionate person you’ll ever meet too.
To the man who wanted to control me: I am sorry.
I control me. You don’t control me. If you try, my tendency is to flee. To run as fast as I can in the opposite direction. To fly away to never-never-land. And please, just please, don’t EVER put your hands on my fucking body. This is MY body. You don’t own it. It is never, EVER okay to touch me with force. Never excusable. And it is unforgivable. Though words are piercing and powerful, your touch is something else…please use it for good.
To the man who wouldn’t kiss me in the morning before you went to work because you were running late: I am sorry.
Be present in those special shared moments. Every once in a while, realize that work can wait. Everything can wait. Let the world stand still. Be still. Absorb me. Kiss the nape of my neck in the morning and hold me in your arms before bed. I might be strong, but I am not afraid to let you envelop me with love. Patrick Ramsay said, “If my shoulders were mountains you’d melt the snow from my peaks with the sunshine in your skin. The runoff would collect, cool in the space above your collarbone. If my lips had a favorite place it would be there.” Yeah, I like that. Go there.
To the man who believed birthdays after 12 years old didn’t matter: I am sorry.
People matter. Celebrate them. They are what make life so special and unique. And please, do me a favor, and once—just once—try to throw me a surprise party. I may be hard to surprise, but I love surprises.
To the man who didn’t understand why I looked at the world with such enormous eyes, noticing and appreciating life’s wonders—big and small: I am sorry.
As a wanderer, I have seen a lot, but it does not mean I do not cherish the small things; the commonalities of culture and peoples. In fact, it may mean I cherish them much more. Engage with me in this. Surprise me. Pick me flowers. Leave me notes. Do whatever small things you can to communicate that you care and support me that fit you, but always remember the small things matter.
To the man who wasn’t aware enough to realize that our relationship was far beyond repair but could not give me the space I so needed: I am sorry.
When a woman—especially the free-spirited, independent, strong, wanderlust variety—makes a decision, you better believe she has done the work and taken the steps to get there. And it is not likely that she’ll go back. When I ask for space, I’m asking for physical AND mental space. Give it to me, please. I promise I’ll be better for it in our relationship.
In all of this, let me be clear: I am not sorry for me or for who I am. I am sorry for you. I am sorry you could not be strong enough and confident enough to maneuver my dynamics. But I’m also sorry – from the depths of my heart – that I did not recognize what I needed in a partner. I thought I did, but I realize now that I was not being true to myself. I’m sorry I wasted your time, and mine, trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. It is now so obvious that you needed roots I couldn’t give you, and I needed wings you couldn’t give me.
Full of gratitude to the ladies who contributed to this piece—Michelle, Brenda, Shannon, Amanda, Alicia: THANK YOU for sharing. When we share our stories we give the gifts of hope and love to each other, for we know we’re not the first ones— and certainly won’t be the last—to have these experiences.